Bringing Scholarship Back to Middle East Studies

Oct. 27 2016

The War on Error: Israel, Islam, and the Middle East contains 25 essays by the historian Martin Kramer on a variety of topics. Jonathan Marks notes that underlying these pieces, some of which were first published in Mosaic, is Kramer’s commitment to pursuing the truth through rigorous scholarship, even when he himself admits he is far from dispassionate about the subject matter. In one essay, Kramer dismantles an unfounded claim made repeatedly by the Columbia historian and Edward Said protégé Rashid Khalidi—and, in doing so, makes the contrast between himself and so many in his field especially stark:

In 2010, Khalidi spread in more than one lecture the claim that the influential novel Exodus, though written by Leon Uris, was “carefully crafted propaganda” guided by “seasoned professionals.” Foremost among them was Edward Gottlieb, regarded by some as “one of the founders of the modern public-relations industry.” . . . There is only one problem: not one thing Khalidi says, in his role as distinguished historian, appears to be true. . . . [T]he story is a fabrication, one anti-Israel authors are so desperate to believe that they rely on an ancient public-relations how-to [manual] without checking the story. . . .

[In other words, Khalidi] showed himself [to be] “someone eager to repeat and embellish a story simply because of its political utility, without even a cursory check of its historical veracity.”

Khalidi’s canard is an example of, in Kramer’s words, “fantasies of Jewish power and control” finding their way into respectable realms of academia.

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Read more at Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

More about: Academia, Edward Said, History & Ideas, Leon Uris, Martin Kramer, Middle East, Rashid Khalidi

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia